- With an attempt to improve bilateral trade, Bangladesh had approved land for the establishment of SEZs exclusively for Indian companies.
- The SEZs are supposed to be located near Mongla Port which is in close proximity to the Sundarbans, the other at Behrammara, very close to Murshidabad and the third one at Mirsarai.
- However, recently the plan had hit a major setback owing to lack of infrastructure and uninterrupted power supply.Major IssuesBorder Issues
- Illegal migration: Illegal migration from Bangladesh has always been a major issue. The Indian state of Assam has been facing the problem of illegal immigration from Bangladesh for decades. In view of this, the Supreme Court had lately asked the centre complete the fencing of the India-Bangladesh border soon to check illegal immigration from Bangladesh into Assam.
- Smuggling: The Indo- Bangladesh border is being used as a route for smuggling livestock, food items, medicines and drugs from India to Bangladesh.
- Terrorist infiltration has been a major concern for the last few years. Recently a report sent by the Bangladesh Government to India’s Ministry of Home Affairs noted that approximately 2,000 operatives of the Harkat ul Jihad al Islami – Bangladesh (HUJI-B) and Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) had entered India through the porous India-Bangladesh border.
- Dumping of fake currency notes has a come up as major problem of late. The dumping gravely affects the Indian economy.
Teesta waters Issue
- Sharing the waters of Teesta River is one of the grave issues between India and Bangladesh
- The issue remains big problem due to continuous protest by the West Bengal government.
- While the Central government did put the river Teesta on the bilateral discussion table, the federal political dynamics has prevented the Centre from resolving the issue of water-sharing overruling Bengal’s position.
- Mamta Banerjee led West Bengal government is of the view that Bangladesh having its largest irrigation project, Teesta Barrage running does not deserve more water.
- The treaty is particularly important for the Hasina government (which has often been accused by critics as leaning towards India) to show that there has been genuine progress in bilateral relations.
- The Teesta waters issue apart, the Bangladesh side is also very keen about a Ganga Barrage and talks in this regard are expected during the summit.
Trade and Investment
At present, the volume of bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh is about $6.6 billion.
‘Blue Economy’ Programme: An initiative has been taken up by the Indian and Bangladesh governments to develop blue economy partnerships with the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region to harness maritime resources and ensure peace.
Establishment of SEZs:
- Bangladesh government had proposed establishment of SEZs exclusively for India at Mongla Port which is in close proximity to the Sundarbans, the other at Behrammara, very close to Murshidabad and the third one at Mirsarai.
- Till now Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority has given land to two SEZs.
- Indian investments via Economic Zones are supposed to redress Bangladesh’s huge trade deficit.
- However, the deal has recently faced a setback.
- Representatives of Indian Inc have cited inadequate infrastructure and lack of uninterrupted electricity as reasons behind establishments of SEZs in Bangladesh to be not commercially viable.
- Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) has been signed on the development of Ashuganj-Zakiganj stretch of Kushiyara river and Sirajganj-Daikhawa stretch of the Jamuna river
- This will improve connectivity between the two countries and will help reduce logistics cost of cargo movement to northeast India and also reduce congestion through the Siliguri’s Chicken’s Neck corridor.
- In 2016 when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Bangladesh, and Bangladesh agreed to join the One Belt, One Road Project (OBOR).
- China is already investing in a number of infrastructure projects in the country including the deep sea port at Chittagong. It is likely that these projects will now be subsumed under the OBOR project.
Energy cooperation between the two sides has also shown a lot of positivity with Indian state Tripura supplying a total of 160 MW of power to Bangladesh in addition to the 500 MW the country is receiving from West Bengal since 2013.
The new line of credit, which allows Bangladesh to buy around $500 million worth of Indian defence equipment, has been planned to chip away at this dependence on China.
In April 2017, four defence related agreements were signed which included a defence framework pact and two MoUs between defence colleges.
India and Bangladesh are intricately interwoven by common history and culture. However, the bilateral relationship between these two South Asian countries has always been very complex. Riddled with illegal immigration from Bangladesh, India needs to have a comprehensive approach towards the problem. Stronger border security and a uniform policy among the Border States can be effective solution.
Background The South Asian democracies,India-Bangladesh Relationship have the longest common border of over 4,000 km with each other. India was the first country to recognize Bangladesh as a separate and independent state and established diplomatic relations with the country immediately after its independence in December 1971. India and Bangladesh not only have economic and political… Continue reading India-Bangladesh Relationship: Background